Cas is back! So is the plot! These are good things, and we’ll get to them in a second. First I just wanna remind you that this season of Supernatural is basically a giant circus. There is so much going on, and maybe you can’t remember it all. Just in case I’m right, allow me to reintroduce you to the story so far. We’ve got: Crowley in prison, Castiel as a human, Abbaddon running hell, also running a murder party on Earth, an untranslated Angel Tablet, angels descended to Earth, a sect of said angels using Evangelical Christian Television to search for vessels, and an angel possessing Sam. That’s a lot of rings in the circus. Much like a real circus, this show is at its best when the lions, elephants, clowns, and acrobats aren’t sharing the same space. This fact may seem obvious to most, but apparently Supernatural just figured it out with this week’s Heaven Can’t Wait.
We get a little bit of Abbadon/Bartholomew action, but it mostly happens off the side. It’s not much more than a gentle reminder that those plots exist, but that tiny prod actually manages to move the narrative forward way more than the past few weeks have. This time around we’re treated to a rare gift indeed; split Winchesters. While Sam stays in the bunker with Prophet Kevin (still love that) trying to translate the Angel Tablet, Dean sets off on a case. How did he learn about the case? Our good friend Castiel tipped him off.
It turns out that since he was kicked out of the bunker, Castiel has become a sales associate at a convenience store in Idaho. It’s not the most rewarding life, but there’s “a human dignity” to it that Castiel appreciates. That’s what this episode is mostly about on Castiel’s end; his transition to humanity and how that effects his identity. He goes through a classic sitcom mixup (he thinks his boss is asking him on a date when really she just needs a baby sitter) followed by an extreme angel attack. Seems like he’s living a just about living a classic human life.
The angel that attacks Castiel is one of the “Hands Of Mercy”. They were the medics in Heaven’s army and have the power to lay the smite down “so quickly and totally that death becomes practically painless.” That’s mercy, by the way. As far as the show is concerned, that means reducing people to nothing but pink slime (mmmmm McDonald’s) in the blink of an eye. One of these beacons of merciful kindness is out and about in Idaho liberating tortured souls from this mortal coil whether they like it or not. Unfortunately this angel, named Ephram, cannot distinguish between the pain a high school girl feels after a public breakup and the suffering of a suicidal man. Instead of trying to figure it out, he decides that they all need to die. Because mercy.
Dean’s role in this story is fairly minimal. He’s basically there as a fully formed human for the still learning Castiel to bounce off of. He tries to teach Castiel how to dress for a date, and then watches him to the door. He’s like an overprotective dad, and it’s great. Dean doesn’t really do anything to solve the case (or really at all), but that’s ok because that whole plot exists only to get him away from the research at the bunker. It’s a story about Cas, and Dean is very much a device here, but he’s a narratively justified and effective one, so that’s ok.
On the homefront, Prophet Kevin manages to translate the Angel Tablet into a different language that no one can interpret. It seems as useless as it sounds, and it results in yet another dead end in the quest to get the angels back to Heaven so they can stop killing all the humans. That is until Sam and Prophet Kevin put on their problem solving hats and remember that there’s a demon who has seen thousands of years trapped in their inexplicably huge, metal closet. When you’ve got ancient text, turn to the ancient monster.
With that classic proverb in mind, the ask Crowley to translate. Dude is a business man, boys. You ain’t gettin’ something for nothing on Crowley’s watch, and he’s not asking for much. All he wants is a demon phone call. In case you’ve forgotten (like I did) a demon phone call requires enough human blood to coat the bottom of a nice fruit bowl. Kevin donates, bad signal jokes are made, and Abbaddon reenters the show.
The lady knight of hell has changed the perdition business model. No longer are the demons collecting deals; instead they’re going straight to the souls, by murdering everyone. Crowley is not so happy with this new deal, and he doesn’t hold back his disdain. In the end, he’s still chained to a chair, so no matter how many times he says he’s the King Of Hell; he’s going nowhere and doing nothing.
The episode ends with a reveal that leaves me wondering how the season is going to play out. It seems pretty hard to imagine anything but magic getting the angels back to Heaven, but what magic? That’s the big question. Regardless of how that gets settled, it was nice to have an episode without Ezekiel and one in which the story lines had room to breathe. This was a very solid episode of Supernatural, and if the show can maintain this sort of pacing and structure we’ll be on pace for a high quality season, one where the elephants don’t step on the mimes. This is the first time this year that I’ve enjoyed back-to-back episodes. Improvement! Hooray!